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As Candidates for the AASA Presidency, Superintendents from Kansas and New York Voice Their Qualities for Election in Front of Colleagues

AASA Presidency Candidates Gladys I. Cruz and Justin B. Henry
Gladys Cruz, candidate for AASA president, is superintendent Questar III BOCES in Castleton, N.Y.

A pair of veteran superintendents seeking to become the president of AASA in 2023-24 used the stage of the 2nd General Session Friday morning to tell several hundred colleagues why they are the best candidate for the association’s leadership post.

Their brief campaign speeches took place at the AASA National Conference on Education in Nashville, Tenn. Voting opened the same day with digital ballots being sent by e-mail to all members. Voting is possible on any electronic device, and members without e-mail addresses on file with AASA will be mailed their ballots. 

The voting deadline is midnight EST on March 11, and the final tally will be announced by AASA by 4 p.m. EST on March 14. The victor assumes office as president-elect on July 1 and takes over the AASA presidency one year later. 

In her remarks, Cruz said through her upbringing in a large family and experience with bilingualism, she “became fearless of the unknowns, flexible and adaptable” to many different environments, skills that serve her as a superintendent.

If elected AASA president, Cruz said, she would remain focused on the needs of the membership — commending Paul Imhoff, the current president, on his involvement in the “Live Well. Lead Well.” campaign. “I love what we do, how we do it, and more importantly why we do it,” she said. “Si se puede!” 

During his time on stage, Henry acknowledged that “even before the pandemic, it took passion” to lead a school district because of the difficulties and pressures of the job.

Justin Henry, candidate for AASA president, is superintendent in Goddard, Kan.

Being a superintendent, Henry said, has to be not “what we do, but who we are.” He pledged to do his best to inspire and lead the organization if chosen as the next president.

Questions about the election process can be addressed to Kat Sturdevant, advocacy and governance coordinator at AASA, at ksturdevant@aasa.org or 703-875-0739.

Abbreviated biographies of the candidates follow.

Gladys I. Cruz

She is district superintendent of Questar III BOCES in Castleton, N.Y., a post she has held since 2015. An AASA member since 2015, Cruz has been a member of the association’s Executive Committee since 2019.

Previously, she was chief operating officer and deputy superintendent of Questar III BOCES.

Postsecondary education: Ph.D., curriculum and instruction, University at Albany, 2000; M.S., curriculum development and instructional technology, University at Albany, 1997; M.A., bilingual education, Universidad del Turabo, Caguas, Puerto Rico, 1994; B.A., Universidad Del Turabo, Caguas, Puerto Rico, 1987

Professional activities:commissioner, The Learning 2025 Commission: National Commission on Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Education, AASA; co-lead teacher, Aspiring Superintendents Academy for Latino and Latina Leaders, 2020 to present; and mentor, AASA Superintendent Certification Program, 2019 to present.

Justin B. Henry

He is superintendent of the Goddard Public Schools in Goddard, Kan., a post he assumed in 2011. Henry has been an AASA member since 2007 and a member of the association’s Governing Board since 2015.

Previously, Henry was superintendent of the Southeast of Saline Public Schools in Gypsum, Kan.

Postsecondary education: Ed.D., University of Kansas, 2006; M.S., Emporia State University, 2001; B.S., Sterling College, 1997.

Professional activities: member, AASA’s American Rescue Plan Committee, 2021-22; Kansas Superintendent of the Year, 2021; member, AASA’s COVID-19 Recovery Task, 2020.

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